Storm Henk sees huge shark wash up on the banks of the River Mersey

The shark was over six meter's long, and is thought to have washed up during Storm Henk. Credit: Chris Cureton

A dead basking shark has been found on the banks of the River Mersey, likely because of Storm Henk.

The six-meter shark was discovered on New Brighton Beach on the Wirral by the coastguard around 11am on Friday 5 January.

The coastguard were unable to identify the carcass, and so contacted the British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) to see if they could examine the remains.

The North West co-ordinator for BDMLR Chris Cureton, from Wallasey, traveled to New Brighton Beach and quickly identified the animal.

Despite being in the job for 10 years, this was the first time Chris had seen a washed up basking shark, and said it was unusual for one to be found on the banks of the Mersey River.

He said: "You do get them in the Irish Sea, but it is unusual. It was well decomposed so it could have been floating around for God knows how long.

"He's probably been brought in by the recent storms."

He added: "The [coastguard] weren't sure if it was a small whale or a shark, so I left work and went down and quickly saw that it was a basking shark.

“The dead giveaway was its second dorsal fin, the head is pretty decomposed but there is no sign of a recognisable toothed shark jaw.

"The tale of the animal is full of bones whereas if it was a whale it would have been flesh.”

He theorised that the strong winds from Storm Henk had brought the shark in land.

The shark is estimated to have been dead for at least five days before it washed up on New Brighton beach. Credit: Chris Cureton

Chris estimated the shark had been dead for at least five days.

After measuring the shark and taking pictures, Chris contacted Wirral Council.

He said: "I reported it to the council to see if they wanted to move it, but in my opinion you're probably best off letting the tide take it back out again because all that protein will then remain in the sea where it belongs."

Basking sharks are the second largest fish in the world, and are commonly seen around the British coast between May and October, before they migrate south for the winter.

Despite it being Chris' first encounter with the breed, he was far from phased.

He said: "I wasn't particularly shocked because we do see some quite unusual stuff in the job we do.

"We get called to all kinds of things from turtles to whales, and dolphins and seals too. We're not easily shocked."

The BDMLR perform rescues for stranded sea-life across the country, while also helping authorities identify dead wildlife.

If you find a stranded or dead animal by the sea, you can contact them on 01825 765546.

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